The Guide

The Insider’s Shopping Guide to Georgetown

Virgina Coyne • Photos by James Bee • March 13, 2018

The Insider’s Shopping Guide to Georgetown

Virgina Coyne • Photos by James Bee • March 13, 2018

It’s not just preppy ties and Hoyas sweatshirts anymore—Georgetown may be Washington’s most style-centric ‘hood. Retail pioneer Marlene Hu points the way to the area’s best independent boutiques.

When Marlene Hu Aldaba opened her first boutique on M Street, Georgetown’s main shopping thoroughfare, in 2005, the neighborhood was parched for fashion-forward options. “Even though big brands like Manolo Blahnik were in the area, it was such a conservative buy that you didn’t really get the breadth of the collection,” she says. She stocked Hu’s Shoes with a well-curated collection of high-end footwear, and it quickly became a must-stop for stylish D.C. shoppers.

Aldaba opened apparel-focused Hu’s Wear a few years later, and today, D.C.’s power women—lawyers, lobbyists and philanthropists—flock to her stores for au courant pieces from Fendi, Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo and Proenza Schouler. Now, Aldaba revels in the success of the many independent boutiques that have filled Georgetown’s 18th- and 19th-century buildings. She walked us through her favorites.


Ubiq, an athletic footwear and sportswear boutique based in Philadelphia, opened its Georgetown outpost in 2016. Aldaba stops in to pick up “effortless, cool casual wear and kicks” by brands from Adidas to Raised by Wolves. The shop also sells Phaidon’s hip, pocket-sized Wallpaper City Guides, which train an art- and design-focused eye on cities around the world.


Specializing in fine lingerie, hosiery and swimwear from European brands such as LaPerla and Emilio Cavallini, this luxury boutique has survived more than two decades due to the graciousness and knowledge of owner Maryam Amirmajdi. “It’s people like her that define a neighborhood,” says Aldaba. “I go in there because I know she’s an expert and I know I’m going to get the right fit. And she has great taste.”

A Mano

“It’s easy to find something special for anyone at A Mano,” says Aldaba of the home goods and gift shop. A neighborhood mainstay since 1994, it occupies a row-house on Wisconsin Avenue that Julia Child once lived in. Today’s visitors find handmade French and Italian ceramics, including colorful majolica from Deruta and delicate Richard Ginori china, along with unique dinnerware, table linens, jewelry and garden décor.

Curio Concept Store

A “jewel box” is how Aldaba describes this boutique, which opened in 2016 in a converted row house. Founder Lena Farouki’s carefully curated collection of clothing, accessories and home goods are sourced from around the world, reflecting the intersection of fashion and art. “There’s a lot of restraint in that store,” says Aldaba. “I think that’s something you don’t see everywhere.

Ching Ching Cha

In the afternoon, Aldaba likes to escape from the hustle and bustle of Georgetown’s streets to this hip teahouse, which she calls “a little oasis.” Appointed with rosewood tables and cushion-topped platform seating, the establishment offers a variety of light snacks and sweets (think vegetable dumplings and coconut tarts) and an exhaustive list of teas. The best part? “No one is on their cell phone,” she says. “You feel like you’re at a spa. It’s a peaceful place where you can actually hear what the other person is saying!”

Dawn Price Baby

A far cry from big-box stores, Dawn Price Baby offers delicate layette items, unique toys and BPA-free feeding accessories that even the pickiest moms would be delighted to receive as gifts. “Everything is so adorable,” says Aldaba of the shop. “There’s something magical about it.”

Baked and Wired

When Aldaba has a cupcake craving, she heads to Baked and Wired, a whimsical coffee shop and small-batch bakery close to the canal. She relishes the fact that the brick building used to be a print shop where she would bring files in the early 2000s, when she worked as a graphic designer at a public relations firm. “Now, I’m like a kid in a candy store,” she says. “I want all of the baked goods!”

Via Umbria

This is Aldaba’s go-to for “delicious food and great tabletop gifts.” The popular café and restaurant doubles as a boutique and market, where visitors can wander the aisles—wine glass in hand—browsing pottery, kitchen products and books alongside pastas, imported sauces, beer and wine, all showcasing the artisanal and culinary wonders of the Umbrian countryside.


Hu’s Shoes: 3005 M St. NW; 202-342-0202

Hu’s Wear: 2906 M St NW; 202-342-2020

Ubiq: 3124 M St. NW; 202-333-8700

Jaryam: 1531 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-333-6886

A Mano: 1677 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-298-7200

Curio Concept Store: 1071 Thomas Jefferson St. NW; 202-851-4946

Ching Ching Cha: 1063 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-333-8288

Dawn Price Baby: 3112 M St. NW; 202-333-3939

Baked & Wired: 1052 Thomas Jefferson St.; 703-663-8727

Via Umbria: 1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-333-3904

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  • March 30, 2018

    THIS is how to do an insider’s guide. I can’t think of anyone else in Georgetown whose opinions I would rather have. Kudos on the article.

    • by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
      April 3, 2018

      Thank you so much, Tricia! Glad you’re a fan of Marlene as well 🙂

Written By: Virginia Coyne


Locations: Washington, D.C.

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